Picture this: you’re 25 weeks pregnant. You’re supposed to be radiant and glowing. In reality, your back is killing you. Pregnancy back pain!
You feel exhausted from this pregnancy back pain.
Work is a nightmare.
At night, you can’t find a comfortable position.
You don’t even feel better when you wake up in the morning!
Terrible thoughts keep going round in your head:
‘’How am I going to get through to maternity leave?’’
‘’If it’s this bad now, how bad is it going to be by the time I’m due?’’
‘’Is this going to affect my labour and birth?”
Sensibly, you bring it up with your obstetrician at your next antenatal appointment. You’re pleased to know your blood pressure is fine, and you passed the oral glucose tolerance test, so you don’t have gestational diabetes. But the back! The back pain is unbearable!
‘’Look, don’t worry, you’re healthy, the pregnancy is going fine. It’s just pregnancy back pain – part and parcel of pregnancy.’’
Sadly, I’ve heard this story hundreds of times. Usually, it is when pregnant women are seeing me for their first physio appointment over half-way through their pregnancy. They’ve had the back pain for 3 months now. Why didn’t they come to see me earlier?
Usually, because they’ve been told that back pain is to be expected in pregnancy, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Often they have been told this by their obstetrician, but it could also have been their GP or a well-meaning friend. I have even heard it said by physiotherapists with limited experience treating pregnant women. The problem is, it’s just not true.
It shouldn’t be thrown in the “pregnancy back pain” basket. There are as many types of back pain in pregnant women as there are in non-pregnant women. If you have had back pain before, or a past injury such as a disc bulge, it is likely to flare up during the pregnancy. It is equally likely that a mild biomechanical problem in your back and pelvis that was pain-free beforehand will flare up due to the physical demands of pregnancy. And then of course there is new pain from conditions you are susceptible to in pregnancy, such as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) or sacro-iliac joint dysfunction.
Don’t accept back or pelvic pain in pregnancy without having a thorough assessment by a physiotherapist specifically experienced in helping pregnant women. We can almost always help you – sometimes a lot! You’ll certainly walk away empowered, and with a sense of control.